Ligthing up the divide

European Space Agency’s astronaut Andre Kuipers took this photograph of Berlin from space. This image as well as Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s image and tweet brought attention to the marked difference in Berlin lights at night when he saw it from space in 2013.

Chris Hadfield took this picture from space, “Berlin at night. Amazingly, I think the light bulbs still show the East/West division from orbit.” April 17, 2013. (Twitter).

On April 13 2013, it was 23 years 5 months and 4 days since the Berlin Wall fell – so why this difference?

East Berlin’s street lights were a sodium vapor lamp which emit a soft yellow light, whereas West Berlin has fluorescent lights which emit white light. Apparently, the reunified city government had not gotten around to changing the East German lights yet!!

The brightly lit up blob in the center which looks like it’s in the East is Alexanderplatz which was heavily renovated after reunification and hence shows white light. The oval shaped darkness at the 9 0’clock spot is the Tiergarten, and the lit up line running through it is a major road, Unter den Linden, which leads to the well-lit Brandenburg gate.

The legendary Tempelhof Airport is now a park.

At around the 3 o’clock spot there’s another dark circle – that is the legendary Tempelhof Airport – the site of the Berlin airlift where American cargo planes brought in food and other supplies to the city when it was blockaded from all sides by the Soviet Union. The airport is now a park.

Belin is home to some of the most beautiful streetlights, some of which have been around the mid 1800s. It seems that the remaining 30,000 streetlights are set to be replaced with more energy and environmentally friendly street lights. Many Berlin residents are trying to get a UNESCO World heritage classification for the old streetlamps in an effort to save these beautiful lamps.

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